This information is not offered as legal advice, nor is this information exhaustive. There may be other remedies and procedures not discussed here. You should seek professional, licensed, legal counsel for advice. A police officer or court official CANNOT tell you what you should do about any legal issues. The following only applies to the City of Giddings Municipal Court. If you are referred to a different court, please contact that court.
WHERE CAN I LOOK UP THE LAWS OF TEXAS?
The Texas Statues are available on-line at http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us .
DO I HAVE TO COME TO COURT?
When you signed the citation, you DID NOT plead guilty; however, you did make a promise to appear in court. This is why officers are allowed to issue a citation for a legal violation, instead of taking you to jail.
You have a choice, depending on how you want to resolve the citation. You can appear in person, by mail, or through a lawyer hired to represent you in court. It is REQUIRED that you contact the court within the timeframe posted on the citation. The Court Clerk can provide you with details from there. Minors (under the age of 17) must appear before the court in person with a parent or guardian. They cannot plead by mail, nor can they pay a fine at the court clerk's window.
WHAT IF THE COURT IS CLOSED ON MY APPEARNCE DATE?
The best course is to submit a written answer (plea) before the appearance date. It is your responsibility to contact the court and to appear as instructed on or before the time or date provided.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON'T CONTACT THE COURT WITHIN THE PRINTED TIME PERIOD?
If you do not submit a plea before the appearance date you will receive a Violation of Promise to Appear. This is a separate violation with separate fines and fees. Also, your Drivers License cannot be renewed until all of these matters are resolved. In addition, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
DO I NEED A LAWYER?
It is not required that a defendant be represented by legal counsel, although a licensed attorney can give advice about options and procedures you may not be aware of. Defendants are certainly free to hire lawyers to represent them in court, but if a defendant cannot afford an attorney no lawyer will be appointed at the State's expense. This is because offenses within the Municipal Court's jurisdiction are punishable by fine only, and not imprisonment. Attorneys are only appointed at the State's expense when a defendant's liberty is at risk.
WHAT IS A PLEA?
There are three pleas you may enter.
GUILTY - admitting to the offense.
NO CONTEST - not admitting guilt, but not contesting the charges filed.
NOT GUILTY - disputing the charges filed. When this plea is used you have an option of a trial by Judge or
Further, if a defendant refuses to plead, the court is required to enter a plea of Not Guilty on the defendant's behalf. A minor under the age of 17 MUST appear before the court with a parent or guardian to enter a plea - it CANNOT be done by mail, and fines cannot simply be paid to the court clerk without seeing the Judge.
WHAT IF I JUST PAY THE FINE?
If you pay the fine without explanation, the court is authorized to accept the fine and enter a conviction as
through the defendant had appeared in person and entered a plea of No Contest.
WILL A CONVICTION SHOW ON MY DRIVING RECORD?
Convictions for certain violations are reported to the Department of Public Safety and remain on your driving record for a period of time. Examples of reported convictions include:
All moving violations
Driver's License violations
Some seat belt violations
While convictions are reported to DPS, not all receive "points." All questions about your driving record should be directed to DPS.
Example of convictions not reported include:
Vehicle Inspection violations
Vehicle registration violations
Most equipment violations
WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS IF I DO NOT WANT TO CONTEST THE CITATION?
OPTION 1. Pay the fine.
OPTION 2. Request Defensive Driving - Both the driver and offense must qualify for a driving safety course and certain requirements must be met according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, Sec. 45.0511:
The offense must be an offense committed while operating a motor vehicle (moving violation),
The driver must hold a valid Class C non-commercial Texas Drivers License
The driver must have valid Personal liability insurance
The defendant must not have taken a driver safety course to dispose of a traffic offense within the last 12 months
The defendant must not be currently taking a driver safety course to dispose of another offense
The request to take the driver safety course must be made on or before the appearance date
The defendant must plead Guilty or No Contest
The defendant must pay the court costs
The defendant must provide satisfactory completion of a certified driving safety course and a copy of the defendant's driving record form 3A obtained from the Department of Public Safety.
FAILURE TO PAY FEES, TAKE THE COURSE, PROVIDE PROOF OF COMPLETION, AND A CERITFIED DRIVNING RECORD IN A TIMELY MANNER WILL RESULT IN A CONVICTION OFFENSES
NOT ELIGIBLE FOR DISCHARGE THROUGH A DRIVING SAFETY COURSE:
Speeding 25 or more miles per hour over the posted speed limit
Construction or maintenance work zone violations (when workers are present)
Failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving damage to a vehicle
Failure to give information or render aid
Overtaking a school bus
Passing a school bus while children are loading or unloading
Fleeing Law Enforcement
Offenses committed by a driver holding a CDL
FAILURE TO PAY FEES AND COST OR TO COMPLY WITH THE COURT'S CONDITIONS WILL RESULT IN A CONVICTION AND PAYMENT OF A FINE. APPROVAL FOR DEFERRED DISPOSTION IS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE JUDGE.